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The Strikes On Qassim Suleimani Prove Donald Trump Won’t Back Down On Iran

The Strikes On Qassim Suleimani Prove Donald Trump Won’t Back Down On Iran

Gene Healy

Security, Middle East

The Suleimani killing was something new under the sun. It marked the first time an American president has publicly ordered the assassination of a top government official for a country we’re not legally at war with.

The MQ-9 Reaper attack that took out Iranian General Qassim Suleimani was a drone strike for peace, President Trump explained last week: we took action “to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.” That’s a theory, and it’s going to be put to the test. “All is well!” the president tweeted last night as a salvo of Iranian missiles fell on U.S. positions in Iraq: “So far, so good!”

Trump’s decision to target Suleimani—a figure described as the Iranian equivalent of “an American Vice President, chairman of the Joint Chiefs and CIA director rolled into one”—wasn’t the first time the U.S. government has aimed lethal force at a top government official. There’s the checkered—and occasionally absurd—history of the CIA’s Cold War assassination attempts, including the Kennedys’ efforts to kill Fidel Castro. But we’ve also gone after legitimate targets in congressionally authorized wars: the downing of Admiral Yamamoto’s plane in WWII and the attempted decapitation strike against Saddam Hussein at the start of the Iraq War.

The Suleimani killing was something new under the sun. It marked the first time an American president has publicly ordered the assassination of a top government official for a country we’re not legally at war with.

This is where you’re supposed to acknowledge that the Quds Force commandant was an evil guy who got what he deserved. Done. But that’s got nothing to do with whether the move was wise or constitutionally permissible.

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